The client and therapist are like two friends going for a walk in the forest, and in the peace of the forest, talking about what matters most to their lives on this earth.
Surely, the client talks of his life, and the therapist listens. The therapist does not reveal a lot about his own life. Yet, the therapist is as present in this walk as the client. He is present not with his words, not with his thoughts, but simply present as a person experiencing the words, sounds, and visuals that make the other person. He is no less a part of this experience than the client is. Only, they express themselves in different ways. The client, through his thoughts which are put into words. The therapist, through his entire being.
The philosopher J. Krishnamurti spoke of his teachings as a walk in the forest with a friend, talking of the matters that are most important to our lives. Fear. Sorrow. Meaning. Joy.
Our place in this vast, seemingly unending universe.
Our place in the vast, seemingly unending universe within.
The client honestly reveals himself. His pain. His struggles
to understand what he is going through, and find meaning in his existence. The
therapist listens. In listening, he offers a space where all that the client is
can be expressed, like a free painting on a canvas. Without the canvas, there
is no painting. Without the painting, the canvas is a blank sheet of paper.
In this relationship, whenever we find it, something new takes place. A feeling, when felt by two, together, is a very different phenomenon from a feeling, when felt alone. When felt by two, it changes each person’s vision of life. From being isolated, defended, one feels open, hopeful, and deeply alive. From seeking security and self-assertion, one begins to feel real human contact, and perhaps that uniquely human capacity – to wonder, at the meaning of what happens to us in our time on this earth.
The walk in the forest is thus a restorative experience, bringing us back to what it means to be truly human – to be connected, to share our pains and joys, to not fight the painful truth of our lives, but to wonder, with curiosity and trust, at human experience, at our particular dilemmas and griefs.
To wonder – is not to look for an answer. To wonder is not to want to find a fix to a problem. To wonder is to hold a fact of human experience in our midst, to not want to change it. To allow it to unveil itself in all its depths. When we wonder, we truly feel pain, and stop spending our energies trying to push it away. When we wonder, the pain reveals a desire behind it.
Sorrow is truly a longing for contact and union. Fear, a wish that one were not this constricted, limited identity one has defined oneself as, a wish that one lives in touch with the vast calmness of all the universe and beyond. Anger, a wish to break out of the cages others and we ourselves impose on us, a wish to be acknowledged and permitted to live as a free being on a free earth.
These are the layers of emotion that all human beings, through the millennia of human existence on our planet, have known and conveyed to each other, whenever they have listened. When they have not listened, they have spent time fighting their own inner experiences.
When the two friends walk in the forest, the inner worlds unveil themselves with as much depth and vastness as the outer world of the forest. There are terrors, just as in the forest. There is absolute beauty, just as in the forest. There is peace. There is thrill and joy. After all, we are nothing but nature. Nature, becoming conscious of itself.